By Cecilia Ijuo
The Deputy President of the Senate, Mr Ike Ekweremadu, said proposed amendments to the 1999 Constitution dropped by the National Assembly may be adopted in a review of the exercise.
He said in a statement by his Special Adviser on Media, Mr Uche Anichukwu, that the rejection of the proposals was not “the end of the road’’ for them since constitution amendment was a continuum.
The statement said that Ekweremadu spoke at a consultative meeting on South-East Infrastructure Development with a delegation of Partnership to Engage, Reform, and Learn (PERL) and the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID).
The deputy president of the senate, who chairs the National Assembly Joint Committee on the Review of the Constitution, said that consultation as well as understanding of the issues involved in the constitution amendment was needed.
”We commend our colleagues for their understanding and ensuring that about 95 per cent of the amendments we proposed to them scaled through.
”We are also conscious of the fact that Nigerians are worried about some of the recommendations that did not pass.
”Let me use this opportunity to further appreciate and reassure Nigerians that we are sensitive to their feelings and that we are likely to re-visit some of the issues they are concerned about when we return from our vacation.
”Some of the issues did not scale through because there is need for fuller understanding as well as more consultations and consensus building on them and their implications for our people,” he said.
Ekweremadu reiterated that devolution of more powers to the federating units would quicken infrastructural development in the country.
He added that, “no doubt, your studies on South-East were right because the region is indeed highly challenged.
“This is especially in the areas of transport infrastructure such as roads, railway and seaport. We are also challenged in the area of power.
”That is why we in the Committee on Constitution Review believe we mean well when we talk about things like devolution of power.
”Our view is that some of these things should be moved from the Exclusive List to the Concurrent List so that while the Federal Government is making efforts, the states too will be making efforts individually, in clusters or partnership with one another.
”That was why we took things like power to the Concurrent List so that states can generate, transmit and distribute power.
“The same goes for railway, which is still the exclusive preserve of the Federal Government.
”That way, Nigeria can effectively speed up socio-economic development in all parts of the country.’’
He added that unfortunately, some of the issues were misunderstood, but that their rejection had not foreclosed their acceptance or approval before the exercise was finally concluded.
”We believe that with more engagements, the issues will be better appreciated and we are positive about more favourable dispositions when we revisit them.
”As leaders, we all have our eyes on the future and are committed to building a better Nigeria for posterity.” Ekweremadu added.
Earlier in her remarks, Team Leader of PERL, Dr Adiya Ode, had commended the National Assembly for voting in favour of autonomy for local governments and states’ Houses of Assembly.
She called for greater support for gender mainstreaming and other amendments that would speed up national development.
Ode said that PERL and DFID were currently working to address infrastructural deficits that impeded the business environment in the South-East.
She sought Ekweremadu’s support toward convening meeting of political leaders of the South-East to discuss issues that would aid the development of the nation.